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Why The MPAA Can Suck It: The Trailer For Bully, A Film That Kids Should See, But Can't (UPDATED)

By TK Burton | Trailers | February 23, 2012 |

By TK Burton | Trailers | February 23, 2012 |

Update: The MPAA held it’s hearing with Weinstein today, and upheld its decision to reduce the rating to PG-13. Bully will be rated R, stating that the MPAA, “has the responsibility…to acknowledge and represent the strong feedback from parents throughout the country who want to be informed about content in movies, including language.” The decision to reject Weinstein’s appeal was upheld by a single vote.
(via The Daily What)

Ah, the Motion Picture Association Of America. The most puritanical, arrogant, misguided, obsolete group of stuffy bastards you’re likely to see outside of the Virginia House of Delegates.

Here’s the trailer for the documentary Bully, directed by Lee Hirsch (Amandla!). It deals with the very real bullying crisis that plagues American children, and examines that crisis, it’s causes, and what can be done to stop it. A snippet from the synopsis:

The Bully Project is the first feature documentary film to show how we’ve all been affected by bullying, whether we’ve been victims, perpetrators or stood silent witness. The world we inhabit as adults begins on the playground. The Bully Project opens on the first day of school. For the more than 5 million kids who’ll be bullied this year in the United States, it’s a day filled with more anxiety and foreboding than excitement.

Whatever your thoughts may be on the subject, the consequences are quite real. I can speak from limited experience — being the new kid with the darker skin and the funny accent when we moved to the U.S. was, unsurprisingly, not always a pleasant experience. I got picked on, I got beat up, but I eventually got out. Some kids don’t.

Some kids kill themselves. The statistics are harrowing.

I don’t know how good Hirsch’s film will be, but I loved the hell out of Amandla!, his documentary about music, revolution and struggle during the Apartheid regime, so Hirsch is a good guy in my book.

Here’s the trailer for Bully:

Looks impressive, if not interesting, eh? Of course, in their infinite goddamn wisdom, the MPAA is giving the film an R rating — for language. Despite the fact that it’s a documentary about kids, and frankly, the language is how kids talk. And despite the very real fact that it’s an important subject that kids, be they the bullied or the bullies, should be made aware of.

Harvey Weinstein is, not surprisingly, contesting the decision — and will in fact appear at the hearing with Alex Libby, one of the subjects of the film. Weinstein went on to say:

I have great respect for the work Chairman Joan Graves and the rest of the MPAA governing body do. I have been compelled by the filmmakers and the children to fight for an exception so we can change this R rating brought on by some bad language.

Is the move a self-aggrandizing, publicity-hounding stunt? Perhaps. The Weinsteins have done the same in the past for other films. But that hardly makes the issue any less infuriating. Here’s Lee Hirsch’s statement on the issue:

I made BULLY for kids to see - the bullies as well as the bullied. We have to change hearts and minds in order to stop this epidemic, which has scarred countless lives and driven many children to suicide. To capture the stark reality of bullying, we had to capture the way kids act and speak in their everyday lives - and the fact is that kids use profanity. It is heartbreaking that the MPAA, in adhering to a strict limit on certain words, would end up keeping this film from those who need to see it most. No one could make this case more powerfully than Alex Libby, and I am so proud and honored that he is stepping forward to make a personal appeal.

TK Burton is an Editorial Consultant. You may email him here or follow him on Twitter.

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